When you look up at the sky at night, what do you see? Do you see a few stars? A few hundred? We’ve searched the planet for some of best places that allow you to see hundreds upon thousands of stars, constellations, and galaxies—all with the naked eye. Here are five of our favorites, including international “Dark Sky Reserves.” Join us to hike by day and explore the wonders of the universe by night—telescopes not necessary!
Namib Desert, Namibia
The oldest desert in the world, the vast Namib Desert stretches from the west coast of Namibia to South Africa and Angola. Sparsely populated and with a super clear atmosphere, it is the perfect place to see the night sky. The Namib has been named an international “Dark Sky Reserve,” and for good reason. On our Namibia Expedition, we have three fantastic days walking the Tok Tokkie Trail through the remote Namibrand Nature Reserve, and our nights are spent under the stars…literally! We sleep in “dune beds,” the most comfortable camp beds you can imagine (think thick duvet covers and a soft pillow) set in the cradle of a dune, with no tents—just the infinite stars above us. The sky is so clear here, you can see the Clouds of Magellan—another galaxy beyond our Milky Way!
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Flanked by massive rock walls that reach 4,000 feet high, Milford Sound is a captivating realm at any time of day. Our New Zealand: South Island Adventure brings us to a sheltered cove beneath towering Mount Pembroke where we can explore the fjord by kayak, relax on deck, and enjoy our remote anchorage for the night. When the wind is calm, you can see the countless stars reflected in the water—a remarkable sight.
Atacama Desert, Chile
The Atacama Desert looks like another planet entirely, so it make sense that it would be a great place for planet-gazing. In the far northern reaches of Chile and with so little precipitation it is known as the “driest place in the world,” the Atacama puts on a brilliant night show. On our Chile from Top to Bottom journey, we hike in the Valley of the Moon and stay at a hotel that is specially designed to blend in with its natural surroundings, giving the land and sky center stage.
County Kerry, Ireland
This enchanting county in western Ireland holds the highest peak in the country and also contains an international “Dark Sky Reserve,”—yet another reason to fall in love with this place that holds tradition over trends. Many of its residents still speak Irish Gaelic, and whether we’re at dramatic Dingle Peninsula or in lovely Killarney National Park, we’ll have you in the ideal spot to enjoy the light show of the night sky. During our Spirit of Ireland adventure, we hike wild trails and spend time with locals, hearing tales of their history and heritage, as well as the gorgeous music of this majestic place.
Gobi Desert, Mongolia
Far from light pollution, and full of remnants from the ice age (yes—prehistoric fossils and ice canyons), the Gobi Desert allows you to completely drop off the radar and fully immerse yourself in silence of the desert. Our adventures in Mongolia bring you to an award-winning lodge where you can explore by day and stargaze by night, all in total comfort.
And watch for the announcement of our new 2018 adventure that will cross from Ancient Britain to the exquisite Channel Islands. This hiking adventure will include a stay on the lost-in-time island of Sark, the first “Dark Sky Island” of the world.